Advocating for your child at school

 ADHD Weekly 2017-01-19

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As a parent, you are your child’s best advocate. When it comes to your child’s education, do you know what his educational rights are and what you need to advocate for him at school?

CHADD Public Policy Committee member Paul Grossman, JD, is interviewed in CHADD’s Attention magazine in Championing Disability Rights. He is the former chief regional attorney of the San Francisco office of the US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Attention asks Mr. Grossman to talk about where school districts commonly fail to understand students’ rights, frequently leading to noncompliance, and what trends he saw while at the OCR.

“Complaints on behalf of students with ADHD in elementary and secondary school made up a big part of my complaint load at the OCR,” Mr. Grossman says. “Clearly districts and parents need more guidance in this area.”

Attention: What level of “educational benefit” can parents demand under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?

Mr. Grossman: The placements of students with disabilities must be “calculated to confer some education benefit.” In my opinion, merely seating students with ADHD at the front of a class, assigning them study-buddies, and reducing their homework loads, does not meet this standard. These are not benefits; they are merely mitigating measures, maybe making school a less painful experience. They teach these students little if anything of value.

A placement to confer an educational benefit would require some form of direct, explicit instruction in the skills in which students with ADHD are deficient—such as those considered part of “executive functions,” like how to begin, plan, chunk, and complete a homework assignment or research paper.

Interested in more of Mr. Grossman’s discussion with Attention? Keep reading Championing Disability Rights.

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